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DC’s New Movie Slate: Who, What, and Why Is Swamp Thing?

Artwork from Swamp Thing's "Green Hell" series, featuring the eponymous Swamp Thing getting nasty with it.

As someone who isn’t too familiar with superhero franchises, I approached this morning’s DC news (featuring a very passionate James Gunn) with vicarious happiness. That is, I was excited for everyone else who was excited, despite the fact that I had no idea what a Booster Gold was. But on the list of announcements, one thing in particular stood out to me: an IP titled Swamp Thing.

I’m a fan of all things crusty, nasty, and grody, so anything with a name like “Swamp Thing” will automatically intrigue me. What resulted was a deep-dive into the franchise that’s got me pretty damn excited for the new movie coming out. So, if you’re anything like me and saw Swamp Thing on today’s news and thought, Now what the hell is that delightful little number, I gotchu. Read on to learn more.

Life of a Swamp Thing

swamp thing and abby arcane are gonna hook up, right?

As I’ve never seen any of the original source material, I’m going to keep things as short and sweet as possible so I don’t muddy any details. The official DC website gives the following bio for our swampy green friend:

It breathes. It dreams. And, at night, beneath a low-hanging fog, it shambles through the shadows with its red eyes and funereal soul. The swamp has a spirit, and it walks on two legs. A monster that was once a man…

Alec Holland was an idealistic scientist who was synthesizing a top-secret chemical in his hidden lab in the marshlands. But after a bomb in his office explodes, the young scientist is murdered. Or so it seems. Because rising in his place is the Swamp Thing, a creature made of vegetation that’s absorbed Alec Holland’s memories, personality—and grief.

The monstrous Swamp Thing can control every iota of plant life on this planet, from the fungus on stale bread to forests of towering oaks. Superhumanly strong and grotesque, he can grow himself a full array of titanic bodies from even the tiniest sprout of green. A living embodiment of the power and terror in our environment, the Swamp Thing protects both humanity and the environment—usually from each other.


Y’all. I cannot even begin to geek out on how astronomically dope this is. Environmental horror is my bread and butter (see: the fact that I watched The Green Knight three times in a row), and the best part is, it doesn’t even stop there.

Upon reading more about the series, I found that Swamp Thing doesn’t just deal with the living world: he also deals with the supernatural. One of his first major enemies is a WIZARD. An evil wizard who can banish peoples’ souls to hell! And in the process of defeating said wizard, Swamp Thing falls in love with his niece, whom he feeds hallucinogenic tubers in order to let her see the world as he does. Like, holy shit, this franchise bangs.

What I love most about Swamp Thing is he’s just this deeply feeling, miserable green mass of life, and if that isn’t relatable then I don’t know what is. They could have just made him some unfeeling sciencey hero, but Swamp Thing can’t help but have big feelings about everything he does. He’s guided by his emotions, which then translate into his sense of duty, and I just love that. And sure, a lot of that is what he inherited from Alec, but I’d like to think that a lot of it is just his essence as a swampy man.

Now, all of that said: what kind of movie are they thinking of making with this sort of character? Well, I have fantastic news in that department.

The Swamp Thing movie: A tale of horror

Oh yeah. This is a horror movie. No overblown theatrics about a rising hero or whatever. It’s gonna be gross, it’s gonna be dark, it’s gonna be … swampy. Per Gunn’s own words, “This is a much more horrific film, but we’ll still have Swamp Thing interact with the other characters.”

As this was a news slate, there weren’t as many details in favor of just outlining DC’s overall plans, but you can bet your ass I’ll be adding updates as we hear more. Eco-horror is just such a delightfully topical genre and it ends up being much more creative than most horror films, largely on the basis that ecological gore tends to be visually phenomenal. That’s why so many people are taking to The Last of Us, after all: it’s technically horror, yes, but largely the horror comes from the way the environment has turned hostile.

Until we know more, I’m begging any Swamp Thing fans to share their thoughts in the comments, as well as any trivia about the franchise worth knowing about. Jesus, is Swamp Thing the thing that’ll finally make me care about DC? Worth it.

image: Embassy Pictures Dick Durock as Alec Holland/Swamp Thing in "Swamp Thing" (1982)

(featured image: DC Comics)

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Madeline (she/her) is a writer, dog mom, and casual insomniac. Her prior experiences with media have taken her down many different roads, from local history podcasts to music coverage & production. Niche interests include folk music, elves/wizards, and why horses are cool actually.